Timeline of Cardinal George Pell’s career and accusations

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Australia’s highest court on Wednesday agreed to hear an appeal by Cardinal George Pell of his convictions for molesting two choirboys in a cathedral more than two decades ago.

Some events in Pell’s career and the criminal case:

July 16, 1996: Auxiliary Bishop George Pell is appointed Archbishop of Melbourne. He molests two choirboys that December inside St Patrick’s Cathedral, according to testimony from one of the victims.

March 26, 2001: Pell becomes Archbishop of Sydney.

October 21, 2003: Pope John Paul II makes Pell a cardinal.

February 25, 2014: Pope Francis appoints Pell to the powerful position of Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

April 8, 2014: One of the molested choirboys dies of a heroin overdose without alleging the crime and having told his mother he had not been abused.

August 5, 2014: Victoria state police establish Task Force Sano to investigate how religious and other non-government organisations handled abuse accusations.

June 18, 2015: The surviving choirboy gives his first statement to Sano detectives outlining criminal allegations against Pell.

December 12, 2015: Australian media report that Pell has cancelled an appearance before an Australian inquiry into how institutions responded to child sexual abuse. Pell said he could not fly back to Australia because of ill health.

December 23, 2015: Sano publicly appeals for information relating to allegations of sexual offences while Pell was Melbourne archbishop.

March 1, 2016: Pell begins testifying by video link from Rome to the Australian child abuse inquiry. Pell was critical of how the church had dealt with paedophile clerics in the past but denied he had been aware of the extent of the problem.

July 27, 2016: Pell denies sexual abuse allegations made on an Australian Broadcasting Corporation current affairs program.

October 19, 2016: Sano detectives go to Rome and question Pell. Pell hears details of the choirboy’s allegations for the first time.

June 29, 2017: Police charge Pell with multiple counts of historical sexual assault offences, making him the most senior cleric to be charged in the church’s abuse crisis. Pell denied the accusations and took an immediate leave of absence as Vatican finance minister to return to Australia to defend himself.

July 26, 2017: Pell makes his first court appearance on charges that he sexually abused multiple children in Victoria decades earlier. Details of the allegations were not made public. Pell vows to fight the allegations.

May 1, 2018: A magistrate commits Pell to stand trial, and he pleads not guilty to all charges.

May 2, 2018: A judge separates the charges into two trials, the first dating to his tenure as Melbourne archbishop and the other when he was a young priest in Ballarat in the 1970s.

August 15, 2018: Trial begins in the Melbourne case and runs for four weeks.

September 20, 2018: Jury discharged after failing to agree on a verdict following more than five days of deliberation.

November 7, 2018: Retrial begins.

December 11, 2018: Jury unanimously convicts Pell on all charges.

February 26, 2019: Suppression order forbidding publication of any details about the trial is lifted. Prosecutors abandon second trial on the Ballarat charges.

March 13, 2019: Judge announces Pell is sentenced to six years in prison on five sex abuse convictions and must serve three years and eight months before he is eligible for parole.

June 5-6, 2019: Victoria state Court of Appeal hears his appeal against the convictions.

August 21, 2019: Appeals court rules 2-1 to uphold the convictions.

November 13, 2019: Australia’s High Court agrees to hear an appeal next year.

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